Let’s all work on our mental fitness 

 

For mental health month, we’ve been seeking inspiration for how we can each put in place small changes to help with our mental fitness.  

Someone who knows a bit about fitness is Jade Blann, who is a personal trainer, gym instructor and member services coordinator across the three Healthwise Fitness Centres at Monash Health.   

When the pandemic resulted in the closure of gymsJade took the opportunity to work with People and Culture in their Organisational Development and Learning team, to put some of her other skills to good use.  

At first, she was redeployed with medical records scanning and in this latest lockdown, she’s been helping the People and Culture team with a range of tasks including coordinating the STAR awards 

In the past, Jade led a very active day, including cycling and running. 18 months ago, she had a bike accident which resulted in a bulging disc and severe pain. Add to that, since COVID started, her role is far more desk-based. But she’s found a way to overcome these hurdles and is a huge advocate for even just introducing a short element of physical activity into your day.  

 I think the main thing that I have done from the start of the pandemic which has really helped me both mentally and physically, is that I committed to going for a walk every single day!  

“At the start of COVID I couldn’t walk more than 15 minutes without pain. Now I can go for up to two hours.  

Regardless of weather or the distance I was able to commit to, even a 20minute walk up to the river and back does wonders for clearing my head (and my back!). Actually, the times I’ve had to drag the umbrella along have felt quite special – there are far less people around so it’s peaceful, and the fresh air is invigorating. 

Jade said while she knew she was very lucky to have wetlands close by, the thing to do is just find one thing that brings a smile to your face. For her, it’s the river or a favourite tree.   

I try to get out several times a day but even just the once makes such a difference to my mental state,” Jade said. 

We put out the call across Monash Health and found some wonderful ideas from our own colleagues. Everything from reducing social media usage, to taking up painting, staying mindful and being brave enough to get professional help if you need it – see if any of them might work for you.  

 

Patricia Wright – Div 2 Enrolled Nurse, Kingston Centre 

What kinds of things have been particularly helpful for you to stay healthy and well during the challenges of the pandemic this year?  

During the first lockdown, it was very stressful because COVID was really knocking on our door and we were aware of potentially taking it home and passing it onto our families or patients. So, in the second lockdown I decided I was going to really look after myself and my health. I haven’t had a drink in this second lockdown. I’ve increased my walks and cycling and getting to know the neighbourhood (like Karen!).  

For the first time ever, I sought help and guidance from my manager about how I was feeling and the best way to move forward. I was feeling very stressed and sad, and she gave me some great feedback and prompts. I talked to my other colleagues too – some of whom had the same stresses I had, but also had to do home schooling or had partners who had lost jobs. They needed to use their days off working with their kids, so they didn’t really get a break 

We’ve needed to learn new ways to support each other when we can’t be all together in the staff room debriefing.  

People are talking about how they are feeling more often. We speak on the way to the car. You have to be very deliberate about conversations when there are only short opportunities.  

The key thing is to be kind to yourself and to each other. Our Unit Manager set up a Positive Board in the ward. We write thankyou notes and things we are grateful for. People stop and read it, and we’ve got others involved – the physios and the dieticians.  

We also need to look after ourselves. As nurses, we aren’t great at that. We tend to look after everyone else first.  

 

Amy Booth – Refugee Nurse 

What are the things you to do make sure you are looking after your mental health? 

The main things that I have found to have a really positive impact on my mental health have been reducing my social media use, I started cycling to work, and I really threw myself into gardening.  

I think reducing social media use is self-explanatory, but cycling to work has had many unexpected and positive impacts on my mental wellbeing. By the time I get to work I am high on endorphins, ready to face what comes, and no matter what kind of day I have had, after a ride home – I feel great! It has also drastically improved my sleep quality which has been another fantastic benefit. 

Gardening has been my saving grace. My garden has always been a little side project, but like a lot of others in the community, I threw myself into it during lockdown. Getting your hands dirty is therapy, and caring for plants and a little patch of earth feels really rewarding. Gardening has such a positive effect on the feel-good chemicals in our brains, and it’s hard to feel sad or cranky after some time in the garden. I realise that this is very much a privilege, so I don’t take this for granted.  

What kinds of things have been particularly helpful for you to stay healthy and well during the challenges of the pandemic this year?  

Really focused on having some downtime, putting my phone away, sleep, and moving every day.  

 

Jacinta Re – Head of Social Work 

What are the things you to do make sure you are looking after your mental health?  

I live on the Mornington Peninsula and go on a regular walk to the beach. The sounds of the waves crashing on the shore helps me relax and it is a calming place for me.  It allows me to have quiet time and space to reflect on my day, my emotions and what gives me joy. 

What kinds of things have been particularly helpful for you to stay healthy and well during the challenges of the pandemic this year?  

I am a very social person so ensuring that I don’t feel isolated during the pandemic has been something I have been very aware of. I have used a range of strategies to keep me connected to family and friends, including regular virtual catch ups, phone calls and old-fashioned letter writing to my niece and nephews (many are still stuck in transit via Aus Post).  I have had a ‘bubble buddy’ within my 5kms, who has been an amazing sounding board. We have laughed, cried, walked in silence if we have needed to, but the power of that human connection has been critical for me.  

 

Barney Matthews  Support Services Manager   

I think there are all the obvious ‘Mental Health Hygiene’ things we all should do, but struggle to do on a routine basis, like getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising regularly.  Developing these good habits is emotional money in the bank for when things do get tough. 

But I think these are all pretty obvious to our audience.  

What I really think is important, is to get professional help when you need it.  One of the hardest and longest journeys for me was even realising I needed help.  Then finding the right help took just as long and was equally as hard.  But persistence has paid off. 

The moment that really made me take action was when my brother said he had started seeing a psychologist.  

It takes a lot of courage and dedication to seek help and to stick with it, but it is worth it.  As with physical health, it should be an ongoing focus with no end goal other than to live well and be happy. 

From an organisational point of view, employees should tap into the wide support and where they feel comfortable, please see your managerWe really do want healthy and happy employees, that is the foundation of good care. 

 

Faitele Tafu – Customer Service / Admissions Clerk – Monash Sector  

What are the things you do to make sure you are looking after your mental health? 

Keeping in touch with my family and friends, being mindful, staying positive and reminding myself that this change is only temporary, keeping myself busy working on small DIY projects at home and just trying to offer support to others.

What kinds of things have been particularly helpful for you to stay healthy and well during the challenges of the pandemic this year?

Our family have been trying our best to eat well, stay active by going out for our family neighbourhood walks, a bit of 30-minute circuit training in our garage and a lot of rest.  

 

Mili Plecic  Manager Language Services 

What are the things you to do make sure you are looking after your mental health?  

Checking in with my family. Minimising exposure to the news. Taking the breaks from technology. Keeping routine. 

What kinds of things have been particularly helpful for you to stay healthy and well during the challenges of the pandemic this year?  

Walking every day by the bay. Trying to eat healthy. 

 

Sophie Marcard  Donor Engagement Manager, Monash Health Foundation  

What are the things you to do make sure you are looking after your mental health?  

My dog is good for my mental health as she gets me out walking or to the dog park every day (unless it’s really pouring). 

What kinds of things have been particularly helpful for you to stay healthy and well during the challenges of the pandemic this year?  

​Since March 2020, I’ve been in a weekly art challenge with my mum and a few of her pals.  We take it in turns to choose the topic (‘bird’, ‘machinery’ and ‘Africa’ were recent themes). The idea is to paint or draw a piece on the theme and share on our WhatsApp group by noon on Sunday.  After 18 weeks we made a book!  

 

Karen Lowe – Executive Director, People & Culture  

What are the things you to do make sure you are looking after your mental health?  

Exercise, run and a walk with one other person regularly. 

What kinds of things have been particularly helpful for you to stay healthy and well during the challenges of the pandemic this year?  

Exercise, run and a walk with one other person regularly.  

 

Kim Minett – Communications Consultant, Public Affairs and Communication  

What are the things you to do make sure you are looking after your mental health? 

Generally making sure I take time to exercise and be outside. For me that’s fishing and gardening. Checking in with people around me to share whatever it is we are experiencing – good and bad. If I start the day feeling low, I think of three good things that will happen that day and look forward to them. It could be as simple as a cup of coffee or a walk with my wife. 

What kinds of things have been particularly helpful for you to stay healthy and well during the challenges of the pandemic this year? 

Definitely getting out of the house, wind, rain or shine. Making a conscious decision to regularly have a chat to family and friends, even if I have no reason to ring them, especially if they are struggling or isolated. If I have a bad day, accept it, and believe tomorrow will probably be better. Paying attention to eating well and getting enough sleep. Tackling several long-standing projects – and not feeling guilty if they take longer than I thought. If something is causing me stress, then confronting it. 

Approved by Karen Lowe



Previous Next
Close
Test Caption
Test Description goes like this
This website is for Monash Health employees. Please be mindful before sharing links.Learn more
+